Saturday trip to the Farmers Market to pick up green beans took a slightly different course... we (my canning assistant, my sweet daughter, Hannah and myself) had stayed up until all hours Friday night and didn't get to the market as early as we had planned... My DH, Hannah's DBF, Hannah and myself made it to market in the late morning, we were on a mission to buy a bushel of my favorite green beans, half-runners... I wouldn't settle for anything else... the half-runners were sold out and gone by the time we got there... Oh, there were round beans, Blue Lakes, bush beans... but to me they all taste like rubber compared to half-runners... there would be more coming in on Thursday, I was willing to wait...
But the mother-daughter canning weekend wasn't over... we found peaches galore... yummy, sweet, local freestone peaches so we bought some (I'll do the beans next week)... and we brought our pickin's home with a quick detour to Rita's Italian Ice for a gelati (my Hannah loves Rita's as much as I do and we make it a point to visit there any time she visits for our favorite mango gelati!) Nick had a peach gelati (fitting!) and DH had a strawberry custard cone... then home to start on the peaches.
Since our plans had changed from beans to peaches, we had a decision to make... do we just do simple peaches in syrup or do we go for something more complicated? more exotic? more of a challenge? We chose more of a challenge with the plan that if there were any leftovers we'd can the rest in simple syrup. Our choice? Pickled peaches!
Here's what we did...
First we washed our peaches then poured boiling water over them so the skins would slip off easily... we peeled and cut the peaches in half... and the fact that they were freestone peaches, the pits came out easily and were discarded.
As the layers of peaches grew in the big stainless steel bowl, we sprinkled Fruit Fresh on each layer as we went along. We peeled and halved until we had 32 cups of peeled peach halves.
We then prepared our pickling syrup...
We tied 4 cinnamon sticks and 4 Tablespoons of whole cloves in a square of cheesecloth, creating a spice bag. In a large stainless steel saucepan we combined 12 cups of granulated sugar, 8 cups of apple cider vinegar, and the spice bag... bringing the mixture to a boil and letting it boil gently for 5-10 minutes, stirring to dissolve the sugar and allowing the spices to infuse the liquid.
|Chopping candied ginger|
Next we added the peach halves and 2-3 Tablespoons of chopped candied ginger and brought the mixture back to a boil, reduced the heat and let it simmer for another 7-10 minutes. (I won't go into a slight mishap of a boil-over we experienced because it all turned out good and nothing was ruined... Hey, stuff happens!)
We prepared our jars by placing them in a pan of boiling water to heat up and sterilize. We put our lids and rings on to simmer, keeping them hot until we were ready to use them.
After the peaches had simmered in the pickling liquid (and the boil-over was cleaned up!) we discarded the spice bag and began filling our hot, sterilized jars with the peach mixture, leaving a generous half-inch of headspace in each jar.
We removed any air bubbles and added more hot pickling liquid whenever needed.
We wiped the jar rims and added the lids and rings (removing them from the simmering water using our handy-dandy magnetic jar lid gadget...
tightening to finger-tip tightness.
We processed our pickled peaches in a boiling water bath... place jars in the canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water... bring to a boil and process for 20 minutes.
We then removed the jars using our jar lifter, set them on the counter to cool and listened for the satisfying sound... the PING of each successfully sealed jar!
There were 3 or 4 peach halves left over, which we sampled... and this is the best description I can give them... fresh peaches taste like summer to me... these delicious pickled peaches tasted like a warm, autumn day... the apple cidery taste, the spices, the sweetness... Sooo Sooo good!
These peaches would make a great accompaniment to roasted meats (especially ham) as well as a sweet snack, or a side dish with bacon, eggs, and biscuits for breakfast.